AFL Features

Published on July 30th, 2017 | by Tristan "Air T" Prentice


Top 10 AFL Grand Final Clutch Performances

There is no bigger stage for an AFL player than the Grand Final; it’s the game where legacies are made and iconic moments are etched into history. Boydz N The Hood writer Tristan Prentice counts down the 10 most memorable AFL Grand Final performances of players who came through in clutch moments when it counted!

10. 1992 Geelong Cats vs West Coast Eagles – Like a cork in the ocean

The famous Dennis Cometti phrase was first coined in the 1992 Grand Final when a little-known Eagles bench player Peter Wilson literally bobbed up in the third quarter. The Cats led by two goals at half-time on the back of the great Gary Ablett Snr but it was Wilson’s goal that changed the momentum of the game. Wilson entered the game and with one of his first touches snapped the ball over the back of his head through the big sticks. Wilson kicked another later as did Brett Heady and guided the Eagles to their first flag after losing to Hawthorn the previous season in 1991.

9. 2008 Geelong vs Hawthorn – Hawks were Dew for the upset

Shades of the 1998 Grand Final in this one as the Cats kicked woefully in front of goal highlighted by Cameron Mooney missing on half-time ten metres on the angle dead in front. The Hawks sensed an upset and so did their veteran recruit from the Power Stuart Dew. The booming left-footer booted two goals in the crucial third quarter and changed the complete momentum of the match.

8. 2005 Sydney vs West Coast – An Amon-ourmous performance

It was one of the tightest Grand Finals of all time although half-way through the third the Eagles led by 16 points and Chris Judd was scything his way through all. As is the case with many Swans players over the year, unsung players stand up and become Grand Final heroes and in this case Amon Buchanan was the man. The nuggetty little number #32 through the whole second half had disposals that kept propelling the Swans forward but it was his defensive pressure that kept the ball in the forward line and gave the Swans the chance to close the margin. This was probably one of the most underrated performances of all time but if you watch the tape back, you’ll see how without him the Eagles would’ve claimed a third much quicker than they did.

7. 2016 Sydney vs Western Bulldogs – Payment = Premiership

Has there ever been a better spending of a “million-dollar” contract than when the Bulldogs went and hunted GWS Giants strong bodied forward Tom Boyd. The 2016 Grand Final will remain the justification for one of the top outrageously large pay packets for a player of all time as Boyd played a crucial role kicking two goals in the first half and playing second ruckman gifting the Bulldog midfielders first use. Boyd may have cost stacks, but it delivered a premiership on the biggest day of all with the match winning goal in the final quarter so I’m sure the Dogs can get it all back over the numerous premiership dinners and endorsements for their first one since 1954.

6. 2010 Collingwood vs St Kilda – Goddard nearly pulls a miracle

Oh, how close the Saints came to marching towards their first premiership since 1964 and Brendon Goddard (2 goals and 31 disposals) nearly pulled in the miracle. Trailing by four goals at half-time much like the classic hanger he took, Goddard was enormous for the Saints after a much-maligned career up to this season. This performance was probably his absolute best and did everything he could to stop the Saints losing but sadly not enough to win. Both teams returned the next week for the first replay since 1977 and the Magpies ended up winning the match comfortably but could easily have had no silverware the previous week had it not been for that elusive Norm Smith medallist Lenny Hayes off-spinner that evaded goal sneak Stephen Milne.

5. 2002 Brisbane Lions vs Collingwood – Lynch-pin Lions

In what is described as one of the top Grand Finals of the modern era, The Magpies inspired by the play of power forward Anthony Rocca were even in a tight game looking to kill off the contest early in the third in random inclement conditions. Thanks also to Michael Voss who lifted his team, the finishing and the powerful marking power of Alistair Lynch kicked three crucial goals in the second half in conditions not suited to his type. Famously Jason Akermanis snapped the winning goal that saw the Lions go back-to-back but without Lynch the black and white would’ve had the day.

4. 2004 Brisbane Lions vs Port Adelaide – Baby Bomber blows off Lions

In the final half of the 2004 Grand Final, The Lions looked like they were heading to a record four-peat in premierships until another premiership player in 1993 caused a power surge. Gavin Wanganeen kicked two goals in the third quarter to give the Power an 18 point lead at three-quarter time. On the back of also another huge quarter from pressure forward former Demon Josh Mahoney, Wanganeen put the Power up by 24 points early in the fourth and were never headed as they struck their way to their first premiership in their AFL history.

3. 2001 Brisbane Lions vs Essendon – Chris cuts apart Bombers

In the third quarter of the 2001 Grand Final, the Bombers the power-side of the early nineties looked like they were about to break the resistance of the newly finals hardened Lions. Former Fitzroy player Chris Johnson completely turned the game from half back on its head as he produced a near perfect quarter propelling the Lions forward and supplying the beasts that lay there in a young teenager Jonathan Brown and veterans Alistair Lynch and Daniel Bradshaw.

2. 1998 Nth Melbourne vs Adelaide Crows – McLeod magic

In any other game, half-back Simon Goodwin, Kane Johnson or even forgotten winger Andrew Eccles would have a case for turning the 1998 Grand Final. However to set the scene, the Kangaroos led by just 25 points at half-time after kicking six goals and fifteen behinds, enter the number 23 in Andrew McLeod. In the third quarter McLeod who had 13 disposals including five goal involvements including one of his own pretty much saw the Kangaroos dominance destruct and the Crows romp their way to back-to-back flags.

1. 1997 St Kilda vs Adelaide Crows – Jarman jags five

In what can be described as one of the greatest coaching moves of all time, Crows coach Malcolm Blight at three-quarter time moved his ball winning midfielder Darren Jarman into the forward line to play on Saints full-back Jamie Shanahan. The result was Jarman kicking a record five final quarter goals out of his six goals for the day and practically dragged the Crows to their first flag in their then brief history.

Let us know what you think of the list? What are your favourite Grand Final moments?!

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About the Author

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Guest Writer for Boydz N The Hood. Writer for the Adelaide 36ers and Fiasco Sports, AFL, NBL, SA (South Australia) Basketball and Cricket Enthusiast.

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